American Airlines is now rewarding passengers who pack light with early boarding privileges. The move comes sharply on the heels of reports that U.S. airlines collected more than $6 billion in baggage and reservation change fees from passengers in 2012 (the highest amount since fees became common five years ago), and Frontier Airline’s announcement that it will now begin to charge some passengers $25-$100 for carry-on luggage.

But in a world of travel that is packed with unbundled airline fees, is American Airlines new policy a shining ray of hope? Perhaps for business travelers who are making a day-long short-haul roundtrip that requires only a briefcase or laptop bag. For the rest of us, the perk of boarding early will come at the expense of having to check our luggage for a fee.

However the good news is that most airlines are still not charging for carry-on luggage. So how do you take advantage of this one free benefit – albeit without pre-boarding – while it lasts? Answer: pack light.

Here are Fly.com’s tips for cramming everything you need for a week’s vacation into one small piece of luggage.

#1: Know your itinerary

It sounds like common sense, but planning ahead is the key to efficient packing. And, if you are one of those travelers who either throw random things into your luggage a few hours before your flight or have a habit of packing everything but the kitchen sink, this tip is certainly for you.

Knowing your itinerary can help you maximize your clothing choices. Pick footwear that can go with multiple outfits. Take accessories and separates – like thin jackets, jewelry, ties and wraps – that take up little space, but can turn your outfit from day wear into evening wear. Work off of a mix and match policy: by recycling pants, skirts and tops you can create multiple outfits from fewer items.

#2: Check the weather forecast

Don’t pack for every eventuality unless you are traveling to a climate that requires it. A good litmus test is to check the weather forecast before you pack. If the forecast is telling you that it is going to be 82 degrees and sunny during your visit, you really don’t need to pack bulky and heavy clothing “just in case.” At worst, should the weather change, you can always use your jacket (see #3 below) or buy an umbrella.

#3: Travel in bulky clothing

Save space in your carry-on luggage by wearing or carrying your bulkiest items. This includes footwear, like sneakers or boots and cold weather jackets or sweatshirts.

#4: Roll, roll, roll

Rolling clothes can help save valuable space and also prevent wrinkles. Just remember to roll from the bottom up, smoothing out any creases along the way. But, if you don’t want to do this for your nicest dress or suit, that’s o.k.; just rolling T-shirts, under garments, pajamas and casual clothes will save lots of space.

#5: Maximize the space

Any empty cavity should be maximized. So stuff your socks, deodorants, hair brushes, belts etc. into your shoes. Fill your purses with toiletries or undergarments. Plus the added bonus is this will help the original item keep its structure too!

Happy Travels!

Featured Image: Overfilled Suitcase (Shutterstock.com)

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Michelle is director of public relations for Fly.com. A British native, Michelle has lived on three continents but, more importantly, she is an avid traveler. She is also an adventure enthusiast and her travels have included bungee jumping off Victoria Falls, kayaking to see brown bears (Alaska), surfing in Costa Rica, driving cattle in Wyoming, stunt flying in Hawaii, and swimming with sharks in Bora Bora.

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